Every other year, Apple comes out with their S line of phones. While these phones look almost completely the same from the outside, they bring major improvements internally. These improvements go on to be defining features for future iPhones. The 3GS brought video recording, the 4s brought Siri (which went on to be one of Apple’s biggest features across their product line), and the 5s brought Touch ID security. Once again, Apple has released an iPhone that looks almost exactly the same on the outside, but do the new internal features make this a radical step forward for the iPhone?
The design of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus is almost exactly the same as the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The iPhone 6s is one of the best smartphone designs ever. The edges of the device are rounded, there is not one hard angle on the main body of the phone, which makes it feel really good in the hand. The glass extends from the border of the screen and slopes down into the metal casing of the phone. The antenna bands extend over the sides over to the back, creating a rounded trapezoid shape on both the top and bottom of the back. The Apple logo is the main highlight of the back of the phone. It has been cut from a piece of polished stainless steel, and then inserted into the cutout in the casing. This creates a two-toned transition between the sand blasted aluminum and the polished stainless steel. One problem with last years design was the use of series 6000 aluminum. This, unfortunately, made the extremely thin iPhone 6 and 6 Plus susceptible to bending. This has been fixed in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus with series 7000 aluminum. Pure aluminum is now mixed with zinc and magnesium, which creates a very strong alloy. Another material upgrade is the dual ion-exchange glass, which is the most durable glass used on a smartphone ever. Rose Gold joins the existing Space Grey, Silver, and Gold. I would describe this color as a metallic peach more than Rose Gold, but I still like the color regardless. 3D Touch is the main new feature of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Taking the technology from the Apple Watch, Apple has created a new interaction using force sensors under the display to detect how much force is being applied to the screen. Right now, there are a few different things you can do with 3D Touch. The first thing you can do is press down on an app icon and a quick actions menu appears that lets you select what you want to do before the app even opens. The second thing you can do is something called “Peak” and “Pop”. If you want to peak at something before you open it, you can press down slightly, and the content will preview for you. If you want to interact with the content, press down a little harder and the content will pop open in a new window. I found both of these features incredibly useful, but I can’t wait to see what developers will do with this new feature over time.
The other new tentpole feature in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus is the improved cameras. The back camera has been bumped from an 8-megapixel sensor to a 12-megapixel sensor. Apple has said in the past that they were not willing to make this jump until they could make sure that an increase in pixel count would not compromise image quality, but they finally did it. Apple has used several different technologies (including deep trench isolation) to make sure that the image quality, and not just size, improved. The camera is now easily in Point-and-Shoot territory, which really says something considering this is a phone. A brand new feature is something called “Live Photos”, these photos capture motion at 15 fps 1.5 seconds before and after you press the shutter button. This feature adds life to photos, which I think will have a major impact in the future as people use this feature to document memories. The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus now shoot video in 4K, while this is impressive, I don’t see a use for it until 4K becomes a standard across the industry. The front camera has been upgraded to a 5-megapixel sensor, which is a huge improvement over the 1.2 megapixels on the 6. Apple also turned the display into a True-Tone flash for the front camera, so now selfies are brighter than ever. Just like every new iPhone, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are faster than their predecessors. The iPhone 6s is really fast, and with the RAM finally upgraded to 2GB, it reloads fewer pages. The speed alone isn’t a good reason to upgrade, as the iPhone 6 was plenty fast, but the A9 is definitely future proof. The new Touch ID sensor is also really fast. Now, by the time I take the phone out of my pocket with my finger on the sensor, the phone is unlocked, which is just another small detail that makes the technology get out of the way. Overall, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are solid upgrades over the existing iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The combination of a strengthened design, amazing cameras and innovative new features like 3D Touch and Live Photos makes the new iPhone a great upgrade for everyone. I recommend buying at least the 64GB model of the new phones, as 16GB is no longer enough for anyone anymore, but besides that, it’s the best iPhone yet.